Is Anyone Sick of Happiness at Work? I’m Not, and Here’s Why

Happiness at work is a big topic these days. I spoke to a packed room at the Medford Rotary about it just last week. Even with unemployment still looming large, most people are carrying 150% or more of the workload they were hired for. Companies are cutting their workforce without lowering the expected output. Someone needs to pick up the slack. How can employees stay positive and how can a company justify investing in workforce engagement programs?

How can they not? 

The billboard you see above is posted all over the San Francisco Bay area. There are many terrific books on happiness at work, and more and more articles continue to be published as the research continues. Just Google “happiness at work” and you will find articles in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business ReviewPsychology Today, etc. There is even a great LinkedIn group that I belong to called ‘Happy at Work.’ Check it out!

According to one of my favorite happiness gurus, Shawn Achor, “Nearly every company in the world gives lip service to the idea that ‘our people are our greatest asset’. Yet when the Conference Board Survey came out last year, employees were the unhappiest they have been in their 22 years of tracking job satisfaction rates. Around the same time, CNNMoney reported a survey that indicated 84% of Americans are unhappy with their current job. Mercer’s “What’s Working” survey found that one in three US employees are serious about leaving their current jobs.”

Why is this lack of happiness at work important? Job satisfaction is not only the key predictor of turnover rates. In The Happiness Advantage, former Harvard University professor Achor makes the research case for the fact that the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce. A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements. Yet even those companies that do take leadership training seriously still ignore the role that happiness plays in leadership effectiveness.

So the secret is out! Happiness, job satisfaction and fulfillment, and employee engagement are WIN-WIN situations for employees and employers. How does your company invest in yours?

(Photo credit to: Anne Espiritu – Google+


  1. Great column Chris. As someone who works as a contract employee, happiness for me is the next contract/article/assignment. It’s tough sledding out there. I think anyone who has a full-time job with decent benefits ought to be happy just having that job. Obviously that’s myopic thinking.

    It’s a different marketplace for our generation, has been for 10-15+ years. Employers don’t have the same incentive to keep people happy, and the word loyalty doesn’t mean the same thing it did in our parents’ generation on both sides. We’re not as content to work at the same place for 30 years – we tend to job hop.

    It’d be nice to work at a job that was exciting, challenging, and rewarded you for hard work. I guess that’s what anyone wants.

  2. Great article, Chris. May I link it to Lightarted Living?

    To me it is such a ‘no brainer’ to engage your workforce in challenging and creative work. Satisfied and engaged workers bring so much more to the workplace. It’s unfortunate when employees’ contributions are squashed instead of acknowledged. Our people ARE our greatest assets! Engage them and you unlock the keys to a successful business.

    Keep up the good work. Spread the word, Chris!

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